Coming into the 2019 regular season, while there were many questions surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) offensive line, there was reason to feel optimistic following an injury-riddled 2018 campaign. The team acquired a new and strong right tackle in Jawaan Taylor via the 2019 NFL Draft and the return of left tackle Cam Robinson was greatly anticipated.
Entering week 13 of this season, there are still many questions surrounding the position group. Struggling coming off of a lost 2018 season, Robinson has not played up to the standard he was used to during his rookie season as well as his time at Alabama. Although he is formidable in the run game, the pass protection issues are worrisome.
The Jaguars issues aren’t necessarily all skill level, however. The team has not been able to stay on the same page for multiple games this season. Communication leads to consistency, Jaguars right guard Will Richardson told Big Cat Country on Wednesday.
“I think with the offensive line, I think that’s the first thing. The offensive line you preach is your strain and finish. I feel like no matter how good you do it, there’s always a little more you can do on that end of things,” Richardson told Big Cat Country on Wednesday. “Just starting with the offensive line that’s just the biggest thing coming to the last few games of the season, we just want to keep our head and communication good at the same level as we’ve been doing for the past games.”
While the offensive line has done an admirable job considering the changes at quarterback over the past few weeks, there have been some lapses in communication illustrated at times. At some points, the offensive line has simply not been lucky enough. Last year center Brandon Linder — for example — accumulated zero holding calls against him. This season, he has been flagged for holding nine times.
Communication is key, especially for a Jaguars offensive line which platoons players at the right guard position. Richardson and Cann have swapped places every two drives since week two of the regular season.
“I just think that’s the biggest part to us as [the] offensive line is just communicating through and talking through and looking over every front together but just overall the biggest thing is just communication.”
Consistency and controlling the line of scrimmage is what Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone — a former offensive lineman and offensive line coach — mentioned this week as the key to success for the team’s offensive line.
“I think you can tell when you’re playing a game, when you’re controlling the line of scrimmage. Whether it be the run or the pass, I think we have to be more consistent and do a better job of that,” Marrone said on Wednesday. “I think that when you look back, the games that we have played well, and I know it’s easy to put it on one group, but usually when your offensive line or your defensive line plays well, you have a good opportunity to win.”
It is difficult to win in the NFL without controlling the line of scrimmage and preventing negative plays from occurring. Richardson understands that the major culprit of poor play oftentimes comes from when there is a lack of communication.
“I just feel like when it comes to consistency and communication, in order to be consistent you gotta communicate” said Richardson. “Usually when you have a drive and things may look a little off it’s usually on the communication end of things and I just feel like once you’ve got the communication side of things down as an offensive line and y'all all are working on the same page things tend to fix themselves out — as you move on throughout the game.”
Richardson is entering his 10th game as a right guard for the Jaguars — two games either inactive or at another position —, getting more comfortable at the position as time goes on. Things are beginning to click, become natural for the young right guard.
”Just from where I started at this summer playing guard to where I’ve come now. Things are starting to just become a lot more natural, just from my eyes to my feet, to my coordination to everything.”